Linda is an Occupational Therapist and joined the online Orri team a couple of months ago.
With 40 year’s experience under her belt, she shares what drew her to work in the mental health field and also what led her to work in Orri’s specialist eating disorder treatment.
How long have you been a clinician for and what were you doing before Orri?
As scary as this sounds I have worked as an Occupational Therapist for over 40 years.
I studied at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa (my home town). I didn’t really plan to go into mental health, but the only job I could get was in a psychiatric hospital in Durban. To my surprise, I loved mental health and have continued to work in psychiatric hospitals, mental health clinics and privately ever since. I did live in London for a few years and worked in Springfield Hospital in London for a year during this time. I am now living in Cape Town and am married with children and grandchildren.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy/discipline that you practice?
I started in general acute psychiatry and then moved to alcohol addiction. I ran my own private practice while my children were young. I then joined a private clinic treating adolescents with mental illness, from there I moved to a clinic that treated eating disorders. My final job before joining Orri was running a recovery house for eating disorders. Unfortunately, due to Covid, this had to close.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I think one of the most fulfilling aspects of my role is getting to witness and stand alongside someone in their journey. It is both a humbling and awe-inspiring space to help an individual embrace what it means to be human and to, within this, build a life of mastery, autonomy – a sense of purpose and meaning.
What is an Occupational Therapist?
An OT’s job is to help clients live their lives to their full potential despite their mental health issues. Our job involves helping our clients identify the reasons for their struggles, to recognise patterns in thinking and behaviour that may be keeping them stuck and to teach tools and skills to help them cope with life.
Occupational Therapists believe that finding meaning and purpose in life directly influences feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Before you can do this, you do need to address the issues that are keeping you stuck, but support is needed in finding the confidence to move forward. This support can be done individually or in groups. We often use creative activities to promote change and we do exposure therapy eg: shopping, cooking, etc to help identify problem areas and practise coping tools.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love the creativity and that we can be practical. It is so rewarding seeing a client doing an activity that they have either not done for a long time or never tried. Occupational therapy empowers clients and gives hope.
“Occupational therapy empowers clients and gives hope.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
A client’s fear of change. In spite of the unhappiness or discomfort a client may be feeling, they can fear trusting something new. Over the years I have had to learn patience!
What do you wish people knew about therapy/psychology?
In therapy we can be helped to stop fearing “feeling distress”. Once we learn that we do have the resources to cope with pain, we can take risks to make healthier choices
What do you feel is most unique about Orri?
I am amazed by how many people Orri is able to reach and offer caring and intensive treatment.
Outside of work, what do you do for your own mental wellbeing?
I have always enjoyed sport, so play tennis, golf and cycle. I also regular walks with my dogs on our beautiful Cape Town mountains and beaches. We love going away on holiday, both in Africa and abroad.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“The Middle path is the Way to Wisdom.”
Do you have a mental health hero?
Winnie The Pooh – I like his philosophy on life!
If you had one piece of advice for a therapy-seeker, what would it be?
I never chose mental health – it chose me, but I do believe that if I had not been in mental health, I would not have been able to resolve my own issues and have the healthy relationships I feel I now have.